Monday, July 21, 2008

Wardrobe Malfunction Fines Dismissed

You all remember that hideous, culture shattering incident at the 2004 Super Bowl, that according to the wackjobs at the Parents Television Council and Focus on the Family destroyed the innocence of an entire generation of kids? The incident that got the FCC all up in arms and became part of the impetus for increasing fines tenfold? The incident that made the entire continent of Europe laugh at North America for being such moralistic prudes.

You know, that thing where Justin Timberlake pulled a piece of fabric from Janet Jackson's leather-breastpiece and exposed her breast and some fancy, filigreed piece of metal?

Well, a federal appeals court has just thrown out the half-million dollar fine against CBS and 20 of the stations it owned. Thankfully nothing really bad happened because of it, because despite the fear of potential FCC censure and fines, everyone in the television industry kept doing the same things they always did.

Wait a minute... that's not what happened at all. If I remember correctly, the networks and affiliates got so scared of what might happen to them, that on the following Memorial Day, many ABC affiliates refused to show Saving Private Ryan uncut, despite the fact that they had done so the previous year(as well as showing Schindler's List uncut.

I also vaguely remember something about the FCC levying fines against an almost 5 year old episode of NYPD Blue that must have offended a lot of people in the Central and Mountain time zones all of a sudden. Either that or Middle America really is 5 years behind them times in everything, because there is no other explanation. I mean, it isn't like some band of kooks would get together and use a website to quickly flood the FCC with a disproportionate number of complaints to try to punish networks after the fact for their perceived slights. Nah... that's too far fetched, and really, who would be so pathetic to do something like that. I mean, you'd have to be a real loser to wait 5 years to be offended by show you likely didn't watch anyway... and to be offended with a large group of people by something that was 5 years old at approximately in the same short window... what are the odds... really, what are the odds.

But surely every script and joke written for network TV remained largely the same in the post-Janet Jackson 9/16 of a second(that's how long the court said it was) breast exposure world. Because the networks would never worry about the kind and loving hand of the FCC smacking them upside the head with a fine because of an off-color joke or reference, however fleeting it was.... *snicker*... I'm sorry, I can't keep a straight face writing that. We all know that most of the envelope pushing writing and such has moved on to the cable networks, as the Emmy nominations show.

So basically, despite this court decision, and hopefully many more positive results for the networks against the FCC, the chilling effect that the Janet Jackson nipple had on the entire network broadcast system will be with us for a long time. I don't know when it will finally abate, but I hope it will be soon.


mfheadcase said...

Hell, the bluenoses have used the wardrobe malfunction to push the FCC's censorious power into cable TV... Judging by shows like Saving Grace, they haven't pulled it off yet, but i expect them to keep trying.

MC said...

In Canada, our version of the FCC, the CRTC, has that power... however, they really don't use it.

I mean, they've shown Kill Bill uncut on the CBC.

But your censoring nutjobs down there wouldn't go for a lot of the stuff that is OK on regular TV up here.